Puerto Princesa Underground River: A Natural Wonderland | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jul 14, 2014

Puerto Princesa Underground River: A Natural Wonderland

Like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the castle at the end of the yellow brick road, Puerto Princesa Underground River is a destination worth traveling to. It takes a long and winding road trip, a boat ride, several queues and a nature trail to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, but I enjoyed every step of the way and nothing else mattered! 

I popped a Bonamine in my mouth after a good Filipino breakfast at Marianne Home Inn's roof deck. It was our second day in Puerto Princesa and my family and I were off on a road trip to see the world-famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. I checked my bag before I hopped in our tour van. There were four sachets of anti-mosquito lotion, a bottle of water and a pack of cashew tarts. I was ready and giddy. 

Puerto Princesa Underground River


The Road Trip and the beautiful Sabang Wharf
We left the city at 7 in the morning and arrived at Sabang Wharf at 9. The two-hour road trip oozed with scenic views, interesting facts and fun conversations. All these were made possible by our tour guide from Maple Travels and Tours

It was then that I realized the advantages of having a guide. Everything were all set. Our entry permits were ready prior our arrival. At the wharf, our guide asked for our valid IDs and went to the info center for our registration while we smothered ourselves with anti-mosquito lotion. Malaria is endemic in some isolated areas in Palawan and not in famous spots, but better be safe than sorry, right?

Sabang Wharf in Puerto Princesa
the waiting area in Sabang Wharf

We took obligatory souvenir photos at the wharf and patiently waited at the covered area. Although it was jam-packed with tourists, things were very organized. Our guide handed over our IDs and informed us to wait for our boat number to be called. It took more or less 30 minutes for our number to be announced, but we didn't mind. The vibe was festive and the view at Sabang Wharf is amazing!

the view from Sabang Wharf in Puerto Princesa
stunning views from the wharf

The Boat Ride from the Wharf to the Beach
I happily hopped off the plastic chair when our number was called. My family and I hurriedly boarded a motorized wooden boat adorned with fiesta flaglets. Since the boat is good for 8 people, we shared the ample space with two of our tour buddies. 

The boat ride was almost half an hour long. We cruised along the clear turquoise blue waters lined with limestone mountains. The balmy sea breeze was cool and refreshing! Although I was so excited to reach the end point, I wanted that part of the journey to last a little longer.  

motorized boats at Sabang Wharf
motorized boats take visitors from Sabang Wharf to Sabang Beach
Lady on the way to Sabang Beach
on the way to Sabang Beach
Puerto Princesa tour buddies
with the family and our new found friends
magnificent limestone mountains in Puerto Princesa
magnificent limestone mountains

The Nature Trail to the Underground River
Sabang Beach is the entry point of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It is not our main destination, yet we devoted so much time admiring its beauty. It is definitely an icing on the cake! We took photos non-stop until our tour guide reminded us that we should go on with our journey. We followed his footsteps to a nature trail in the forest where we met monitor lizards roaming freely.

the breathtaking beauty of Sabang Beach
the breathtaking beauty of Sabang Beach
nature trail to Puerto Princesa underground river
nature trail to the underground river
We met a bayawak (monitor lizard) along the way!  

At the end of the trail, I saw the glistening white beach, crystal clear waters and the main reason behind our family trip to Palawan. From where I stood, I admired the stunning limestone karst mountain with the entrance to the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River. Breathtaking! But when I looked at the other side, I saw people in bright orange vest on queue for the paddle boat ride. So, it took another long wait for my dream to explore the underground river to be realized. 

Ed and Lady at Puerto Princesa Underground River
entrance to the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River
tourists at Puerto Princesa Underground River
the waiting area for the paddle boat ride

While we were waiting, our tour guide reminded us to be careful with our belongings, especially the plastic bags with food, as the forest monkeys might take them away from us. I thought it was a good joke, but then it happened! When a lady beside us took some biscuits out her bag, a monkey came out of nowhere and snatched the pack from her! Lesson of the day: Listen to your tour guide!  :)

monkey at Puerto Princesa Underground River
And so, it was the monkey who enjoyed the biscuit! 

The Wonders of Puerto Princesa Underground River
Our turn for the paddle boat ride finally came after 30 minutes of waiting. Our tour guide handed us over to our designated boat man who will serve as our guide in the longest navigable underground river in the world. Then, we had a 45-minute journey in a natural wonderland! 

one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature
time to wander at one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature
inside Puerto Princesa Underground River
We were all mesmerized! Who wouldn't? 

I always thought it will be a long and serious educational trip, but the well-trained boat staff kept the tour upbeat. He let us appreciate the wonders of nature in a fun and interesting way. The Underground River has spectacular rock formations and serves as a home to bats and balinsasayaws (swiflets). Words of amazement and sounds of laughter echoed throughout the cave! We hardly noticed the time until our boat made a U-turn and journeyed back to the mouth of the cavern.    

exploring the longest navigable underground river
exploring the longest navigable underground river 
rock formations at Puerto Princesa Underground River
astounding rock formations
the mouth of Puerto Princesa Underground River
Hello there, outside world! :)

Buffet Lunch at Gusto  
After I ticked off wish #3 on my 20 before 2020 bucket list, we made our way back to Sabang Wharf where a delicious lunch buffet was waiting. Lunch at Gusto restaurant is included in our Underground River Tour Package. I filled my plate with Filipino cuisine and as I savored the goodness of  each dish, the feeling of extreme gratitude sank in. I am grateful that I was able to see that 'pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'. And most of all, I am grateful that I was able to share the joy to the people I love. 

Gusto Restaurant at Sabang Wharf
post-tour lunch at Gusto
Filipino dishes at Gusto Restaurant
delicious spread of Filipino dishes 
lunch at Gusto Restaurant in Sabang
 Yes! I was hungry! :)

*Our Puerto Princesa Underground River package tour was organized by Marianne Home Inn in partnership with Maple Travels and Tours.
* Tour Fee: Php 1,500 / person
* Tour Inclusions: air-conditioned van, licensed tour guide, entrance fee, boat transfer, buffet lunch

More of Puerto Princesa
Where we stayed: 
Marianne Home Inn
Where we dined: 
Badjao Seafront Restaurant

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